Co-op City eyes changes but raucous residents are unimpressed

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Co-op City, located in the Northeast Bronx along the I-95 corridor on the border of Westchester County, is home to more than 50,000 residents who invest handsomely for a quality lifestyle.

By Carmen Glover

New York City’s largest residential cooperative, Co-op City, operated by Riverbay Corporation, is nestled in the Bronx on the New England Thruway, along the I-95 corridor and bordering Westchester County. It’s 35 sprawling buildings is home to more than 50,000 residents, many of whom showed up at 7:00 p.m. for a forum in Drieser Loop on Monday night to listen to administrators and invited presenters share details about pending changes in the operations of the complex.

Coop city

Many Co-op City residents rely on the MTA’s bus service for transportation but recent changes in the bus routes have disrupted the residents’ lives, causing anger and frustration.

But the forum devolved into an ugly, raucous, shouting fest and chaos when some of the residents, armed with their own agendas, refused to allow the presenters to complete their statements, choosing to hijack the forum and offer long-winded thoughts instead. Annoyed cooperators walked out at various points throughout the evening, fed up with the wanton display of clashing egos and unruly residents who seemed determined to disrupt the event.

Co-op City General Manager Vernon Cooper pleased with residents to listen to presenters but he was ignored as angry residents talked over him and the presenters.

Co-op City General Manager Vernon Cooper pleaded with residents to listen to presenters but he was ignored as angry residents talked over him and the presenters.

“No!,” shouted Margaret, a female resident who seemed to disagree with every statement made by both residents and presenters. Annoyed residents chided her to “be quiet,” to no avail. “Recommendations were made to see if service cuts could be restored,” said Riverbay’s general manager Vernon Cooper, introducing a team of representatives from the,Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), New York City’s transit body, regarding bus service in the area.

Jacqueline Carter, assistant director of government and community relations at the MTA, explained that her team was “able to put together an amazing snapshot” of MTA ridership in Co-op City to determine if it is feasible for restore services that were changed in the past. But when her male counterpart said that a study of 1,000 riders were surveyed on specific days last September and October and a large percentage “were satisfied with the service,” angry residents drowned out his voice with a chorus of “no, no, no!”

MTA Official is ridiculed as he tried in vain to defend the bus changes in Co-op City.

MTA Official is ridiculed as he tried in vain to defend the bus changes in Co-op City.

“You have been meeting with politicians but none of them live here. You said you did  a survey but who did you speak to?” asked Bernard Cylich, a community activist who scolded both the MTA representatives and Riverbay’s management team. Eleanor Campbell, another resident said: “Your numbers stating that only 8% of residents use the bus is not valid,” to sustained applause. “Every bus should go into every loop,” said another resident. “For 30 years the 26 and 28 buses worked fine but you changed it and it’s costing us. You are cutting up the bus service to line your pockets at our expense,” said a female resident, recounting that she now pays $10 each way to and from work instead of $5 due to the changes. Her statements were greeted with deafening applause.

Residents argued that the lines to ask questions were too long. They also argued that they were denied the opportunity to give lengthy speeches or curse out the representatives. Cooper, Riverbay’s general manager, was unsuccessful in his efforts to persuade the residents to follow the rules established for the event. For those who had the opportunity to ask questions, they refused to surrender the microphone, launching into campaign-like soliloquys as frustrated residents seethed.

Co-op City's Administrator Herbert Freeman did not fare well when he tried to interact with residents after he spent the early portion of the event as an observer.

Co-op City’s Administrator Herbert Freedman did not fare well when he tried to interact with residents after he spent the early portion of the event as an observer.

Cooper then introduced Paul Shack and David Carlos by stating: “Many housing developments provide websites about the developments where they live and we felt it was a good idea to provide one for Co-op City.” Shack then said he and his partner “have the pleasure of creating a website for Co-op City,” before airing a two-minute clip about their proposed website which, among other features, would make it possible for residents for pay their carrying charges online. However, residents lost interest when the men insisted that concerns about security of personal information were unnecessary while failing to explain what built-n security features their website would have.

Carter, who left immediately after the MTA’s presentation, urged residents to contact her directly at Jacqueline.Carter@nyct.com, to express concerns. OnPointPress.net. 

New changes to the SATs offer mixed bag for students

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Graduate Student Katiya Shell sees pros and cons with the newly revamped SATs.

By Onissa Sancho

Students who are now in their sophomore year of high school will be the first group to take the new Scholastic Assessment Tests, better known as the SATs. May 2016 will invite a host of changes regarding the SATs. The shift in rules include: no penalties for wrong answers, depending on location some individuals will be able to take the tests on a computer, the essay is optional and free test preparation classes will be offered online for all interested students. The College Board, which is the association that administers the SATs, will go back to its old way of scoring the tests so that the total points students can score is 1600. Are these changes going to help, or hurt, future college applicants?

Vinette

High School Junior Vinette Bristol of Brooklyn, NY feels the new SATs will be less challenging but she wouldn’t mind taking them herself.

“I’m happy for the people taking the SATs in the future, but I don’t feel like they’re going to be challenged like I was,” said Vinette Bristol of Brooklyn, N.Y, who is currently a junior in high school and has taken the PSATs about four times and the SATs once. Bristol also said, “I’m kind of disappointed too. Why couldn’t these changes apply to me?”

Bristol and many of her peers will be some of the final students to take the SATs before the changes go into effect in the spring of 2016. A concern for others regarding the upcoming changes to the SATs involves the soon-to-be optional essay. Terrell Singletary, a junior studying chemistry at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, sees problems with making the essay optional.

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Chemistry Major Terrell Singletary disagrees with an optional essay on the SATs because he believes it will short-change students.

“I think it is a bad idea to make the essay optional, because if I don’t have to write to get into college, why should I have to write in college?” he said.  Singletary believes that preparing for the SATs encourages students to aim high and strive for better. He admits to once not knowing how to spell a commonly used word, and the fact that he saw its abbreviation on social media websites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter made it worse, because he remembered the abbreviation before remembering the word itself. He feels that such an occurrence is common among students who do not read and write as often as they should. An optional essay will not improve that reality, he feels, since essay writing encourages expanded thoughts, vocabulary and expression.

On the other hand, graduate student Katiya Shell, who is studying Public Health at Drexel University in Philadelphia, believes that while all elements of the SATs are important, the skills needed to write a good essay will not improve simply by making the essay mandatory on the SATs.

College Board President David Coleman

College Board President David Coleman, recently announced changes in the SATS that will take effect in May 2016.

“If you don’t have the components of English before the SATs then you’re not really going to have it simply because of an essay,” she said. Shell took the SATs twice, in 2005, just when the points system changed from 1600 to 2400, and again in 2006.

The very first SATs were administered in 1926 to a group of students located in two U.S. colleges. Times have changed immensely since then, which is why the changes to the SATs need to be applied in a modern way. It is important, however, to make sure that students are not short-changed by removing rigor from a series of examinations which provide an important transition from high school to college.-OnPointPress.net.

Onissa Sancho is an intern with OnPointPress.net. Please follow her on Twitter @osjou222.

 

Which team has the brighter future: the Knicks or the Lakers?

Carmelo Anthony (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are in different circumstances for marquee franchises but both have championship aspirations for the next couple of seasons.

Carmelo Anthony (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are in different circumstances with underperforming franchises but both have championship aspirations for the next couple of seasons.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The New York Knicks formally introduced Phil Jackson as president of basketball operations on Tuesday, March 18, sparking feelings of hope in the minds of optimistic fans. But there are plenty of skeptics who point to the tall task ahead of the “Zen Master” and many of the questions at the press conference were aimed at figuring out Jackson’s commitment to his first position as a basketball executive.

Phil Jackson had all the answers today at the press conference. This might not happen again for a while.

Phil Jackson seemed to have all the answers at Tuesday’s press conference. This might not happen again for a while.

There were a few noticeable takeaways from Tuesday’s press conference. Knicks fans must have felt annoyed to hear Knicks owner James Dolan almost gleefully admit: “I am not a basketball expert,” when he was asked specific questions. Dolan, however, recognized that it was time to hire someone who knows the game and he seemed happy to offer the position to Jackson. For his part, Jackson did not avoid the challenge with being present in New York year round, stating, “I plan to establish myself here [in New York] but I do have doctors and …other family I am committed to in L.A. as well.” With Jackson in the fold, there is a legitimate question as to which marquee, but underperforming franchise has a brighter immediate future: the New York Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers?

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has the experience of building a championship team.

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has the experience of building a championship team.

While Phil Jackson has plenty of experience as a basketball player and coach, current Knicks General Manager Steve Mills is in his first year in the position. This is in stark contrast to the Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak who is far more experienced. Kupchak is a former player and champion for the Washington Bullets and Lakers. He has been an executive for the Lakers since the late 1980’s. Kupchak learned directly under one of the best NBA executives of all times in Jerry West and has been the GM since 2000. This wealth of experience should give Lakers fans hope that Kupchak can fix the current mess the team finds itself in.

Knicks head coach Mike Woodson (l) and Lakers head coach Mike  D'Antoni may be looking for new jobs next season.

Knicks Head Coach Mike Woodson (l) and Lakers Head Coach Mike D’Antoni may be looking for new jobs next season.

There is a great deal of focus on the upcoming season and how these franchises will rebound, yet the Knicks still have a chance to make the playoffs this year. Knicks Head Coach Mike Woodson will have a hard time retaining his position regardless of the team’s final win-loss outcome. The Lakers are already eliminated from playoff contention and their coach, Mike D’Antoni, will have a difficult time convincing Lakers’ management to continue being patient with him, if the Lakers finally come to their senses. Neither team can know what direction their team is headed before they know who the leader of their team will be. Both franchises have to figure out the coach of the future to help create structure for these teams.

Robert Sacre (l), J.R. Smith (c), and Jordan Hill (r) are unheralded members of the Knicks and Lakers that are not likely in either teams' long term future.

Robert Sacre (l), J.R. Smith (c), and Jordan Hill (r) are unheralded members of the Knicks and Lakers that are not likely in either teams’ long term future.

The Lakers will have only Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash definitely on the roster for next season. They will have plenty of cap space and their first round draft pick this year. Meanwhile, the Knicks will be over the salary cap next season, whether Carmelo Anthony opts out of his contract or not, and they do not have a first round draft pick this year. Both teams have publicly stated a desire to wait until the summer of 2015, when a host of all-star caliber players become free agents, before they spend the money the team has available under the cap. This process may seem prudent but may not work for the stars of each prospective franchise. Bryant has only two years left on his deal, and maybe in his career. He has been clear in recent comments: “no I’m not that patient…I don’t want to be a part of another season like this,” he has said. Anthony has also been on the record stating, “I want to win championships…in the near future.”

Both teams have several decisions to make about players, personnel and coaches. The Knicks now have a brilliant basketball mind in the front office and a top 5 scorer currently under contract. However, the Lakers will have 2014 and 2015 to strategically spend free agent money, make trades, draft players, and build a championship contender, like they normally do. It’s a toss-up to see if the personnel/coaching/player movements will achieve the desired results for either team.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

An optional, rather than mandatory, essay on the SATs is a mistake

 

College Board President David Coleman

College Board President David Coleman recently announced changes to the SATs, including making the essay portion optional, which is an insane idea.

College Board President David Coleman announced recently that effective 2016, there will be dramatic changes in the SATs, the college entrance examinations used to determine high school students’ profile and suitability for college-level work. Among the changes that he announced will be elimination of words that he views as archaic from the vocabulary section of the examination in favor of words that he feels are more relatable such as “empirical.” Also, the total scores one can earn will return to 1600, down from 2400. Those changes may well be practical in order to streamline the examination he said.

One of the best changes that he outlined was the creation of free online college test preparation entities to level the playing field for students from all income levels. That change in particular will provide low income students with access to free tutoring and college preparation resources, a huge change from in the past when many test preparation services were affordable to high income earners alone.

“If the College Board is serious we must confront the inequalities such as cost in test preparation,” Coleman said of the plan to introduce fee online test preparation services.

That is a positive step. But the decision to make the essay portion of the examination optional is not. The inferior writing style of many high school graduates is appalling. And their lack of awareness of classic books and those authors’ contribution to literature is embarrassing. High school students need more practice with essay writing, not less. For one thing, they need to hone that important skill in order to write a compelling entrance essay to be included as part of the college application packet. Moreover, the art of writing an essay becomes more important when the student begins to take non-mathematical classes such as the humanities, history, psychology and all classes that require above average writing skills.

It is shocking to see the inferior writing and communication skills displayed by the average high school graduates, many of whom use social media around the clock and find it difficult to actually spell the words that they often abbreviate in everyday life. Making the essay optional will do these students no favors. Instead, it will erode the impetus that they had, minimal though is was to begin with, to fine tune their writing skills and learn to write in a more sophisticated way.

Sometimes even college graduates produce writing that is so dreadful that it hurts the eyes of the reader. Usually the explanation that is given is that these writing-challenged individuals graduated from inner-city public schools which lacked adequate tools to sufficiently educate them. Well, a good place to start in correcting such an oversight is encouraging students to read more, expand their repertoire by including books that span cultural backgrounds and to practice the craft of writing in different styles, beginning with a basic, well-thought out and properly-developed essay.

The College Board needs to reconsider this matter immediately and reinstate the essay as a vital and central portion of the SATs, not an optional matter. Students’ future depend on it.–OnPointPress.net.

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U.S soccer icon Brianna Scurry testifies on Capitol Hill, highlights concussions

 

Brianna Scurry was part of a delegation of sports representatives who testified on Capitol Hill about concussions and other sports injuries last week.
Retired U.S. Soccer great Brianna Scurry was part of a delegation of sports representatives who testified on Capitol Hill about concussions and other sports injuries last week.

 By Carmen Glover

During her heyday at the helm of the U.S. female soccer team, Brianna Scurry, 42, was a dazzling presence, protecting the goal post, frustrating opponents and elevating the game of U.S. female soccer to spectacular heights. As the goal keeper, she made an impressive save against the Chinese team in 1999, securing the U.S’s first World Cup trophy in history and garnering a solid fan base of supporters and admirers. She was a part of the U.S. soccer team that also won two Olympic gold medals.

Brianna Scurry showcasing her talents.

Brianna Scurry showcasing her talents that inspired many young  females to join soccer teams.

But her career ended horrendously when she was hit in the head, enduring knee-to-head contact with a player on an opposing team, causing concussion and neck injuries that have left her a shell of her former self. A surgery followed, as did a dramatic withdrawal from public life leading ultimately to her retirement.

It was refreshing to see her re-emerge on the public stage last week on Capitol Hill testifying about the dangers of concussions that lurk in sports, particularly to young female athletes who play soccer, football, lacrosse, basketball and other contact sports. Scurry joined sports safety advocates in testifying last Thursday at the U.S House of Representatives’ hearing on “Improving Sports Safety: A Multifaceted Approach.”

Brianna Scurry being attacked by a Brazilian player.

Brianna Scurry being attacked by a Brazilian player because her prowess was unmatched.

“My life reads like a script from Oprah’s Where are they now? Like Many of Oprah’s guests, I too have been left in deep dark places with my face in the dirt and have only recently began to claw my way back to life,” she said in her testimony before the subcommittee.  Scurry described suffering “intense, piercing headaches” leading to surgery, which has provided her some relief.

“Fortunately the surgery appears to have helped me. However, I’m still being treated for symptoms such as lack of concentration, balance issues, memory loss, anxiety and depression,” she said.

Brianna Scurry demonstrating expertise in the game of soccer.

Brianna Scurry was always a pleasure to watch as she excelled in making female soccer players exciting, with save upon save that inspired confidence and won her a legion of fans.

Speaking afterwards on ABC’s World News Tonight with correspondent Jim Avila, Scurry was circumspect, eloquent and passionate about her quest to highlight sports injuries so that young athletes and their families can take preventive actions to preserve their safety and well-being.

“I don’t remember being hit and I don’t remember falling over but I’m still suffering from the effects of that hit,” she told Avila, explaining that she remained in the game initially after she suffered her career-ending injury. Cautioning athletes, she urged: “If you start to feel a little bit woozy or sick to your stomach you have to tell a teammate or your coach.”

Brianna Scurry in yet another exciting, stellar save.

Brianna Scurry in yet another exciting, stellar save, which was her trademark when she dominated the game.

According to testimony at the Capitol Hill hearing, soccer, lacrosse and basketball are among the top sports that cause the most concussions and head injuries to female athletes at the high school and college levels. The testimonies provided a sober reminder that efforts need to be sustained and vocal in order to protect all athletes from injury, even as they seek to entertain and thrill fans across the globe. –OnPointPress.net

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March Madness continues to enrich many, just not the players

The NCAA showcases March Madness across four different stations.

The NCAA showcases March Madness across four different stations.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Conference tournaments in college basketball wrap up this weekend, followed by selection Sunday, then the eventual start of the NCAA tournament this coming week. Once the teams are selected, people can begin the tradition of filling out their brackets and hoping their bracket wins whichever pool they have entered.

The one-and-done format of the NCAA basketball tournament provides many intriguing outcomes, including upsets and close games, while also having the best college stars performing at their best. Ironically, while the college players are giving everything they have to win the tournament, everyone else involved in the tournament has a chance to get rich.

Warren Buffet (l) and Dan Gilbert (r) sponsor a promotion that will reward a lucky participant with one billion dollars for a perfect bracket.

Warren Buffet (l) and Dan Gilbert (r) sponsor a promotion that will reward a lucky participant with one billion dollars for a perfect bracket.

Warren Buffet and Dan Gilbert are offering a billion dollars this year for any person with a perfect bracket, who correctly predicts the winner in the NCAA tournament. Although it is unlikely that anyone will collect the prize, it is the largest prize ever offered for this tournament. But the casual fans aren’t the only ones that will cash in on March Madness, if one lucky fans do predict all the winners.

As usual, the NCAA will profit quite handsomely with their television deal and piqued interest this tournament produces. The expanded coverage now allows fans to watch every game across four different stations at once. The wider television coverage helps increase the chance fans can catch all the best moments the tournament has to offer.

While college basketball fans appreciate being able to see the game of their choice, it is still hard to escape the reality that the players who will generate millions of dollars are unable to earn from their own efforts. So another March Madness gets ready to begin but nothing changes for the players, who give their best, for nonexistent financial rewards. –OnPointPress.net

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

3 ways to rescue your fitness regimen in time for summer

Donna Richardson Joyner shares many fitness tips.

Donna Richardson Joyner, 57, shares many fitness tips online, in her books and on television.

By Carmen Glover

If you are like many folks who yearn to be fit and toned but struggle with the discipline required to achieve that goal, don’t be discouraged; getting into shape is more challenging than people tend to realize. It’s usually easy to decide, often on a whim or after seeing the doctor for a yearly physical, that something drastic needs to be done to lose weight, tone up and maintain a healthy lifestyle. But the work that it takes to achieve those lofty goals is arduous, tedious and just plan difficult for many people who are trying to balance parenting, working, paying bills and simply surviving.

Many people tackle the fitness agenda with great enthusiasm at the beginning of the year, only to lose focus, drive and discipline as the winter months drag on, battering their psyches with inclement weather and sheer exhaustion. But wait, there is hope. Here are three things you can do right away to restart your fitness engine. These tips were culled from information provided by experts including medical doctors, fitness professionals, nurses and nutritionists.

The Biggest Loser trainer also has a book and DVD set describing ways to lose weight the healthy way.

“The Biggest Loser” trainer Jillian Michaels, 40, also has a book and DVD set describing ways to lose weight the healthy way.

1. Take Little Steps Daily

Rather than becoming consumed with the desired end result, it is more practical and useful to commit to taking several small steps each day. The steps can include simple things such as five minutes of stretching, followed by five minutes of brisk walking from room to room in the home, combined with aerobic activities such as jumping jacks, jogging in place or outside if possible, working the abs and lifting some weights, using items around the home. Try to aim for 15 to 30 minutes each session and if you feel like breaking up the time into two or more sessions per day, do that. According to physicians, nutritionists and fitness experts, it’s the consistent routine that matters, not gym memberships or extensive, hours-long, workout sessions.

Dr. Ian Smith has written several books about losing weight the right way.

Dr. Ian Smith, 44, has written several books about losing weight the right way and keeping it off.

2. Consult a Personal Trainer, Read Books or Take Classes for Specific Goals

If you have specific goals to achieve and you fear that your motivation level is not as high as it should be, consult with a personal trainer who will be your official cheerleader and drill sergeant to keep you on schedule. If you thrive in a setting which offers camaraderie in numbers, look into classes. Zumba, yoga, step and boot camp classes are offered at most gyms. Other classes include spinning and strength training. It is also helpful to read books written by professionals who share their expertise on safe and effective weight loss strategies. Among those experts who are currently promoting fitness books are Donna Richardson Joyner, Jillian Michaels, Dr. Ian Smith and Dr. Travis Stork.

3. Increase Fruits, Vegetables and Water Intake, Reduce Sugars and Fat 

During the cold months of Winter, comfort foods serve a dual purpose of encouraging nesting while satisfying hunger. But with Spring comes the extended daytime hours, sunshine and the urge to get up and move. Experts recommend increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, water and protein while reducing the intake from carbohydrates, sugars and fat. Also, they recommend eating six times per day, to include three main meals and three snacks to boost the metabolic rate, which, in turn, burns calories. But avoid fast and processed foods and try to eat less, since experts state that people tend to eat more and exercise less than they usually care to admit.

Dr. Travis Stork of "The Doctors" recently released a book sharing his tips for safe weight loss.

Dr. Travis Stork, 42, of “The Doctors” recently released a book sharing his tips for safe weight loss.

By utilizing these measures as well as keeping a good record of what you eat each day, you will be in a good position to monitor all facets of your weight loss and fitness regimen such as your energy output, the food and calories consumed and the degree of activity that is included in your daily routine. The best mentality to have is that it takes a long period of time to gain excess weight, therefore expecting to shed enormous amounts of weight and become svelte and toned in a short period of time is not only unrealistic, it is dangerous.

Follow the experts and pace yourself, while trying to have fun along the way by indulging regularly in activities that you like whether it is dancing, jogging or using the treadmill or elliptical. Ask a friend or relative to join your quest so you can motivate each other. Don’t forget to incorporate regular household activities such as cleaning, which includes bending routines that often work the legs and arms while giving a good cardiovascular workout. The bottom line is that Summer is several months away so there is ample time to become focused, lose weight, become toned and achieve measurable results.  -OnPointPress.net.

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